Does WTO Dispute Settlement Enforce or Inform?

British Journal of Political Science, Forthcoming

Posted: 27 Jun 2013

See all articles by Thomas Sattler

Thomas Sattler

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations

Gabriele Spilker

ETH Zurich - Center for Comparative and International Studies

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Date Written: June 25, 2013

Abstract

Whereas some researchers emphasize how World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement reduces complexity and clarifies legislation, others argue that dispute rulings promote co-operation by providing an enforcement mechanism. This article identifies empirical implications from these distinct arguments and tests them on WTO disputes from 1995 to 2006. The study’s analytical approach combines a three-step coding of dispute escalation with a strategic bargaining model and statistical backwards induction to account for governments’ forward-looking behavior. It finds strong support for the argument that WTO dispute settlement primarily serves as an enforcement device. It finds much less support for the argument that dispute settlement reduces complexity and clarifies trade law. These results suggest that the role of WTO dispute settlement in generating information on acceptable trade policy standards is less relevant than proponents of the complexity argument tend to assume.

Suggested Citation

Sattler, Thomas and Spilker, Gabriele and Bernauer, Thomas, Does WTO Dispute Settlement Enforce or Inform? (June 25, 2013). British Journal of Political Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2284957

Thomas Sattler (Contact Author)

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations ( email )

40 boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Genève 4, Geneve CH-1211
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.thomassattler.org

Gabriele Spilker

ETH Zurich - Center for Comparative and International Studies ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

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